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Empowering citizens: Where next for the GovTech tidal wave?

A range of new ‘govtech’ solutions are coming onto the market as digital services increase. A new report takes stock.

As Covid cases rose, so did hospital hacks in France
Separate ransomware attacks have knocked out computer systems in more than half a dozen French hospitals, forcing them to return to using pen and paper - Copyright AFP Philippe DESMAZES
Separate ransomware attacks have knocked out computer systems in more than half a dozen French hospitals, forcing them to return to using pen and paper - Copyright AFP Philippe DESMAZES

To improve access to information, local and national governments around the world are investing in technology – part of the so-termed ‘GovTech’ wave. This includes, in PwC’s summation, using digital to deliver new and better ways to enable citizens to engage in their communities and receive the public services they need.

As a concept, ‘government technology’ concerns the application of information technology’s role in national and local governments. This is a rapidly changing landscape, driven by technological innovation and identified need. A new report charts the key movements within the sector.

The World Bank sees the core elements as: “citizen-centric public services that are universally accessible, a whole-of-government approach to digital government transformation, and simple, efficient and transparent government systems.”

The GovTech Division of Deep Knowledge Analytics has released a guideline called  “GovTech / E-governance Global Industry Landscape in the Post-Pandemic World 2021/Q2”. This takes the form of a report that provides information on the main types of technologies within the government-technology arena, including artificial technology and machine learning; plus, the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, robotic automation, and Geospatial Data Analysis.

The report sets out the best cases of their implementation and it also identifies increasing market opportunities for companies currently operating with GovTech technologies. Such information can prove invaluable to startups seeking to enter the market worldwide.

By analyzing current technological trends in GovTech, presenting a comprehensive overview of e-government and GovTech development, and highlighting the main barriers and obstacles to GovTech adoption, the report attempts to pinpoint the main drivers.

In doing so, important features of the of GovTech transformation can called out for both developed and developing countries. Here there are different stages of development and different factors to consider in terms of national, business and citizen-level benefits.

The report finds that the stronger GovTech solutions are based around a developed, integrated, and holistic ecosystem. This invariably requires collaboration between governments and GovTech firms, given that the time, resources and expertise is rarely present within the governmental organization.

There are also legal factors to consider, since digital transformation in the government context is catalyzed by national programs and regulations that may hinder or accelerate technology adoption. There are also political decisions that can influence the outcome, such as the rate of capital investment and with the operation of the procurement process.

The report also considers the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the evolution of GovTech. In particular, COVID-19 has changed government and constituency engagement. This has highlighted that limitations of legacy systems. Of particular concern are critical capacity gaps as well as

cybersecurity deficiencies.

Additionally, the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of egovernance by states across the globe and urged the venture capital world to impact-invest. According to one of the case studies, leading GovTech startups have secured at least $686 million in investment over the last year, which is reflective of the level of investment going into this area of digital transformation.

Despite the waves of investment, for many in the sector profitability remains a challenge, especially for newer firms. One factor for this is due to the number of startups seeking to make a profit, which is partly counter-balanced by other startups being reluctant to enter this changing market.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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